Motorola to supply Navy with 'PC Radios'

Motorola Inc. will supply the Navy with "point and click" software reprogrammable radios capable of operating across frequencies ranging from 2MHz to 2G under a new Navy contract with a potential value of $368 million.

The Digital Modular Radio (DMR) that Motorola developed for the Navy measures slightly more than 18 square inches, but it provides more features than a room full of rack-mounted radios, according to Bennett Beaudry, director of the Wireless Information Transfer System product line at Motorola's Systems Solutions Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. Because Motorola designed the radio around software instead of hardware, users can quickly reconfigure it to switch from the frequency and modulation used by strike aircraft to satellite transmission frequencies, Beaudry said.

Users don't have to switch a lot of dials to make these changes: Just point a computer mouse to the new frequency, click, and go on the air. Beaudry said this feature will allow the DMR "to become the PC of the radio world," with software controlling not only frequency selection and modulation, but also encryption.

Motorola has emulated a wide range of National Security Agency hardware encryption devices in a cryptographic engine embedded in just one circuit board in the DMR chassis, Beaudry said.

This software-driven architecture will also enable the Navy to bridge users on one frequency to another with just a mouse click, Beaudry said. The software bridging function would easily enable the president to place a satellite telephone call and talk to the pilot of a strike aircraft with the satellite circuit instantly bridged to standard Navy UHF aircraft frequencies.

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